Happy New year, everyone! With one day of 2021 under our belts, I am sure many of you are thinking “let’s just forget 2020 in its entirety and set our sights on 2021.” In some senses, I am 100% with you. 2020 has been like the 1900s traveling fair rides with ups, downs, and points where you really thought you might die. But all of us need to see that although there may never have been a more turbulent and unpredictable year, we have all made it through this one. So, celebrate the fight you have put up for a whole year, acknowledge that all 2020 threw at you couldn’t take you down. Though it might not be your best year to date, it sure as hell has given all of us some crazy stories and life experience. With all of us looking back, I find it only fitting to tell one of my “favorite” farm moments of the year.
The first story fitting to represent 2020 that came to mind is the tale of the sand point well. In late June to early July, our farm experienced the worst drought our area had seen in over 50 years. With our seedlings fresh in the ground, we needed water badly, and all of our water for irrigation dried up in a matter of days. A pit of stress still forms in my stomach when I remember looking out at our hemp babies then down at the muddy bottom of our irrigation pond. After trying many different tactics to get water, we finally decided to pound a sand point well. For those of you who aren’t familiar with different well types and their uses, let me shed some light on the subject.
The guys (and the geese) trying to thread one of the caps onto the top of the pole for pounding
A sand point well is nothing more than a pointed metal pole with a filter going 3ft up the metal shaft. The pole is around 2 inches in diameter and a length of 4 feet. The top of each pole is threading to connect another pole and thus lengthen your well. If you have never experienced the hell that is pounding in a sand point well, consider yourself lucky in at least that aspect.
Getting the well an inch in the ground can take up to 20 pounds with your manual pole pounder, and we needed this well to be around 15-21 feet deep! For hours, the four of us switched off, taking turns exhausting ourselves. The summer being in full swing surrounded us with a thick heat that triggered sweat out of every gland. On a water run, one of us had the brilliant idea of bringing the much-needed water and a jug of premixed margarita! Now, as we pounded, we passed the jug of Marg mix and danced and sang to Jimmy Buffets “songs you know by heart.” After we had gotten the well 14 feet deep, we continued to check for water, but sadly there was none to be found, so we passed the jug and pounded on.
We were now down to our last well extension. This pole would get us down to 21ft deep. There had to be water down there, we thought! Another hour passed, and all that was fueling our tired, empty stomachs was our jug of Marg mix, which was sadly nearing the end. With the final pound, we all tensely waited as we connected our small pump to see if we could start pulling water out. The pump started, and a splash of water burst out the end of the hose! We started celebrating and patting our sore backs until we saw our hose had nothing else to give. After troubleshooting, we found it must have just been a fluke bit of water that made its way through the filter and nothing more.
Slightly shattered inside, we made our way back to the house. The weight of our water crisis weighed heavier on our shoulders than ever. After multiple failed attempts to get water, it would have been easy that night to call it quits. Our bodies hurt, and our minds were tired with stress, but we pushed on. Not a week later, we had three more failed attempts under our belts, and finally a spark of hope emerged. After teaching us how to witch for water, our neighbor brought over his excavator and dug us a new irrigation pond! Although no one thought it would fill in, it was our last hope. The next morning, we walked down to our new mud hole to see it had miraculously filled in with thousands of gallons of clear spring water.
Our fight for water left an essential lesson on all four of us. We knew now that we succeeded because we never even let the idea of failure in our heads. We kept moving even when the shackles of stress and fatigue bound us to our beds. It is in these moments where movement is critical, and you see how hard you can fight. Humanity should look back on 2020 as we look back on our fight for water. Although our collective battle is far from over, we all should take pride in the fight we have put up so far and our willingness to keep fighting. I hope you all find your water soon in 2020! And if not, I hope there is some damn good margarita mix to keep you going. Stay strong in 2021!